Artist replicates Ferguson Shooting, shocks internet
It’s been nearly a year since the shooting of Michael Brown, one of the many acts of police violence that got us talking about race. The incident, which fueled the #blacklivesmatter and powerful ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ movement, has now become the focus of an art installation at the Gallery Guichard in Chicago. New Orleans based artist Ti-Rock Moore has re-constructed the Ferguson tragedy, building a life-size replica of Michael Brown’s body, and positioning him face down on the floor to mimic the scene of his untimely death.
Moore, a self-proclaimed white feminist, is using her art show Confronting Truths: Wake Up! to comment on white privilege and racism in America. In addition to Brown’s body, the exhibit features various poignant motifs of racial paraphernalia such as a statue of liberty in blackface and a noose dangling from the ceiling. According to the artist, "We’re living in a society of very complicated systems that create advantages for white people, and disadvantages for others. That’s what my work is about."
Although both of Michael Brown’s parents were notified of the gallery, when asked about the exhibit, Michael Brown’s father stated, “I really, really would like them to take that away. I think it’s really disgusting.” Meanwhile Michael Brown’s mother, who attended the opening, asked that the gallery remove the mold of her son during her visit.
Intended to incite discussion on race, the exhibit has gone viral as a subject of controversy, provoking many to send death threats and hate mail to the gallery and it’s owner Andre Guichard. Furthermore, as a white female, activists worry that Moore is not suited to depict her perspective of racism and privilege, and have called her work ‘atrocious’. The heated dispute surrounding Moore’s exhibit leaves us wondering: has art become all about shock value?
Artists have a social responsibility to master the balance between challenging and respecting an idea, that simultaneously sponsors thought and creates a necessary, but at times uncomfortable dialogue. While Moore has certainly given us something to talk about, perhaps in the process, discomfort has been conflated with distaste.
Images Courtesy of Guichard Gallery and REUTERS